Thoughts about the Democratic Primary Food Fight so Far

First of all, nobody stole the show in last night’s first “debate” in my opinion.  Other than Elizabeth Warren, those doing best in the polls battle tonight, so she was the favorite in the betting, so to speak.   As such, she had the most to lose, and I think she held up well enough.

This is mostly a wait and see for me.  Wait and see who the polls show got a bump and who got a trip, like to stumble.   The long shot candidate that caught my eye (as well as that of my friend Tom located at a separate viewing site) was Tulsi Gabbard.  She had a confident presence on the stage, especially when Middle East policy came up. Deployed twice in the area when in the National Guard, the Hawaii congresswoman looked formidable despite only getting about seven minutes of talk time (Cory Booker got the most, 10 minutes).

I wanted to hear more from her, which wasn’t my reaction to most.

As it turns out, the sample size impressed by Gabbard was much larger than Tom and I.   According to Fox News she was the most googled of the candidates nationally after the show, while Warren had been most googled prior to the performance.

Another point of interest was how much more male candidates interrupted others to speak.    That gave the boys more speaking time, which prompted David Leonardt of the New York Times to criticize the panelists for letting the men get away with it.

It makes me ponder how much we interpret rudeness and bullying as strength (anybody in particular come to mind?)  I also wonder how Kamala Harris, a former district attorney not shy to interrupt, will handle that tonight.

As for this evening’s round of candidate promos, Charlie Sykes, a conservative with a conscience, sums up the likely plot with admiral succinctness:

“This is Joe Biden’s debate and race to lose.   He must come off not doddering, not vague and not defensive.”

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Laughin’ Joe and the Kid

I saw only the first one-third of the debate last night because I had a meeting to attend.  I taped the program, but will not bother to watch the rest.  I saw enough, and I have a pretty good idea of what I missed by watching some post debate coverage on both MSNBC and FOX, and from reading  several editorials today.

It seems that if you favored Biden and the Democrats, you liked his feisty  ways.  If you favored Ryan and the Republicans, you saw a”grinning, grimacing, condescending Joe,” as Carl Rove put it on FOX.  Chris Wallace said it was the most “openly, disrespectful” performance he had ever seen in a VP debate.   In contrast, someone on MSNBC called it a “superb performance” by Joe, maybe Chris Matthews, who gleefully added:  “This was a Joe Biden night.”

I imagine Biden did energize the Democrat base who have probably upped their orders on anti-depressants since Obama’s mail-it-in effort in the first debate, but I also imagine Republicans believe Ryan held his own – held serve, so to speak, for Romney in next week’s debate.

So, fine, both VP candidates found approval from their bases while dissed by the other side, but it is the undecided’s that interest me at this point, as indicated in my previous post.  I ponder:  Who are they and what are they waiting for?  How much swing do these swing voters have and will only a slight breeze be required to  push them in one direction or the other on Nov 6?  Or will they feel little wind at all and just stay at home or waft to the movies?

As with the last debate, Frank Luntz had a focus group of undecided’s on FOX, but unlike the other group, this time they seemed to end up decidely undecided.

As a piece in Newsmax.com stated:  “Some of the 26 interviewed by Luntz said they were put off by what they described as Vice President Joe Biden’s “condescending” and “disrespectful” attitude towards the younger Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.

Others in the group said they didn’t understand why Ryan couldn’t be more specific about how GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney intends to implement his “five-point” plan to get the economy back on track.”

In the end, the swing voters seemed to feel little wind in either direction. Another focus group of undecided voters on CNN split their votes evenly: 1/3 Biden, 1/3rd Ryan, 1/3rd Undecided. While that group seemed to feel small gusts in both directions, it still seems that Frank Luntz summarized the undecideds in general when he said: “We’re going to have to wait until next week’s debate [Oct. 16] to see when the undecided decide.

“One added thought. Though supportive of much what Joe Biden said, and not put off by his 82 interruptions as tallied by FOX (he needed to make up for Obama’s ennui), I was one of those put off by his frequent imitation of chuckles the clown.

I liked Biden better just listening to him on the radio en route to my meeting. One Democrat suggested those smirks and Cheshire cat grins were Joe showing outrage at the falsehoods spun by Ryan. I’d say most of us would think that is an odd way to show outrage. A serious demeanor and intense stare would have been less off putting to those capricious swing voters.

But, as we so often hear, Joe’s gonna’ be Joe.   And, all told, I doubt this debate will be much remembered by anyone by election day.